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Extended Audio Sample The Mercy Papers Audiobook, by Robin Romm
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (420 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Robin Romm Narrator: Ann Marie Lee Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2009 ISBN: 9781415962589
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When Robin Romm’s The Mother Garden was published, The New York Times Book Review called her “a close-up magician,” saying, “hers is the oldest kind [of magic] we know: the ordinary incantation of words and stories to help us navigate the darkness and finally to hold the end at bay.” In her searing memoir The Mercy Papers, Romm uses this magic to expand the weeks before her mother’s death into a story about a daughter in the moments before and after loss.

With a striking mix of humor and honesty, Romm ushers us into a world where an obstinate hospice nurse tries to heal through pamphlets and a yelping grandfather squirrels away money in a shoe-shine kit. Untrained dogs scamper about as strangers and friends rally around death. The pillbox turns quickly into a metaphor for order; questions about medication turn to musings about God.

The Mercy Papers was started in the midst of heartbreak, and not originally intended for an audience. The result is a raw, unsentimental book that reverberates with humanity. Robin Romm has created a tribute to family and an indelible portrait that will speak to anyone who has ever loved and lost.


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Quotes & Awards

  • “A furious blaze of a book…The Mercy Papers is no blind rant. In Romm’s hands, anger becomes an instrument for pursuing truth, an extremely effective crowbar with which to pry back nicety and expose ‘something unfettered, something darker.’”

    New York Times

  • “There is comfort in the unflinching honesty of Robin Romm’s astonishing memoir. I sought such truth after my daughter died, and grew angry at the platitudes, the cowardice, the lack of acknowledgment of what life and death hold. But Robin faces it head-on, and I am grateful to her for being brave enough to share her story.”

    Ann Hood, author of Comfort and The Knitting Circle

  • “I love this passionate and beautifully written memoir, The Mercy Papers. Every sentence rings with furious love and loss.”

    Abigail Thomas, author of A Three Dog Life

  • “A poignant account of a young woman’s struggle to accept a parent’s dying…A piercing, heartbreaking reminder that loss doesn’t end.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Romm’s piercing and personal look at loss will speak to anyone who has coped or is coping with the death of a loved one.”

    Booklist

  • One of the 2009 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction
  • An Indie Next Notable Title, February 2009
  • A 2009 Entertainment Weekly Best Book for Nonfiction
  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • A 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stephanie | 2/17/2014

    " I can understand the pain of the loss of a parent. I lost my mom when I was five. I felt Robin's pain. I can also say that I never let the lost of my mom become a way of life. Wallowing in pain is never a good thing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ali | 2/16/2014

    " Disjointed and difficult to keep track of. But that's how it is when you're in such an emotional state. Robin hadn't come anywhere near acceptance by the end of the narrative. There, she inserted an unusual gift - 12 blank pages. No instructions on what to do with this gift. But the obvious use is for the start of the reader's own grief journal. Assuming that the reader is in the same boat. (But why would anyone not grieving want to read this book?) Even in a library book, those pages cry out to be used. But nobody has yet, at least in this copy. (They have 8 copies of the book, and I was the 60-somethingth in line, so it's passed through a number of hands already. And now there are over 80 people in line!) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 2/2/2014

    " A quick, depressing read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Leigh Hancock | 1/2/2014

    " My friend Mateo had a good point when he asked why I even read this book. I dunno. "Nothing better to do" doesn't really have the ring of truth. Maybe it was the popsicle sticks on the cover. Whatever the reason, I regreted it immensely--so much that I kept reading, hoping it would get bettr. It didn't. It's not so much that the writing is bad (although it's a bit MLA-stylized)...it's rather that the writer is so venomous toward almost everyone and especially toward the somewhat hapless hospice nurse who, you get the sense, probably has her OWN story to tell about X patient's witch of a daughter. Now the question is--why am I spending more time writing this review? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kelley | 12/26/2013

    " Read this one in less than a night. Couldn't put it down. I think some people might think it masochistic, but there's something deeply comforting about reading a story that feels so much like my own story - different details, yet same confusing, wrenching struggle. And in the end, she gives good advice that most people are too afraid to give: 'it will never leave you.' And claims, rightfully so, that there's comfort in that, and there, oddly, is. Beautiful beautiful book. Made me thankful at times that my mother's death played out the way it did (she did with all of us around her and talking to you) but regretting that it played out the way it did (it happened so fast, no time for the myriad conversations I'm still longing to have with her.) And funny to read this book nearly 6 months to the date that she died. Though, I find so many things funny and strange and coincidental these days... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Saundra | 12/26/2013

    " This book stands out for its emotional honesty. The last three weeks of her mother's life provides the frame. You know she's going to die, but you're on pins and needles anyway. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Teresa | 12/23/2013

    " This book started out as the author's journal during the time she spent with her family just before her mother passed away. This is grief, raw and up close. Her openness and honesty is breath taking. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rudri | 12/8/2013

    " Well written book. Romm chronicles her mother's last 3 weeks of her life and her battle with breast cancer. Romm describes the daily ins and outs of being a caregiver to a cancer patient and her portrayal is blunt and delicate, without being oversentimental. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Christopher | 11/25/2013

    " This book is painfully beautiful. The author is daring in that she has written a book that claims rights to grief in a way that evades the culturally received language for grief, as well as looking death in the face, angrily. It is a courageous book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jacquelyn Vandam | 9/26/2013

    " Short and not very well developed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Emily | 9/2/2013

    " Another book that hit a little too close to home. Don't know why I insist on reading these but I do. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elisabeth | 1/12/2013

    " Woman in her twenties comes home for her mother's final three weeks of life. Lots of anger and very little hope. The metaphor of building a boat for her mother to leave on was poignant. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jodi | 11/8/2012

    " I have no idea if this book is as good as I deemed it to be, because it was, for me, essentially an autobiography. To a tee. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Janna | 10/5/2012

    " powerful and short memoir of the death of the authors mother from breast cancer. I found it moving, sometimes gruesome as death truly is, and a portrait of a family coping best they can with saying goodbye to a strong mother. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 natalie | 8/9/2012

    " Spent an afternoon reliving the most painful time of my life. Exhausting but cathartic. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ginny | 2/27/2012

    " I found this book disturbing. It kept my interest in the hopes the author would find some good somewhere in all that she was encountering during the last weeks of her mothers life. She seemed like a woman who is spoiled and with no hope. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mimi | 12/21/2011

    " Kind of a self centered memoir on grief -- a little too much "woe is me/what about me". I'd recommend The Year of Magical Thinking any day for a book about grief, recovery etc. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marty | 11/28/2011

    " This book is so visceral, so hard to read, so true. My major reaction was a very selfish one to a) wish that I never have to go through this and b) appreciate my parents being here and being healthy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mindy | 9/27/2011

    " I seem to have developed a strange affinity for memoirs about illness (preferably mental or terminal) and/or grief (preferably raw and/or wallowing). And thus I found Robin Romm's book about losing her mother to cancer unusually compelling. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Debbie | 7/21/2011

    " I couldn't put this book down. Definitely not easy to read, but in the end, comforting to know that my feelings around the recent loss of my father are universal to everyone experiencing loss of a parent. I cried buckets- it was very cathartic. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Christine | 2/6/2011

    " I thought The Mercy Papers was fantastic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathleen | 1/15/2011

    " Not quite what you would expect in a book of grieving, and yet true to life and somehow uplifting in the end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 1/13/2011

    " Great book about the process of loss. NOT grief. Grief also... but really the process of losing someone. If you're like me, you will cry. A lot. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lori | 12/29/2010

    " I loved this book. Robin does such a great job of sharing what it feels like to love a parent while loosing them. I appreciate her strength and candidness. She is a beautiful writer. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jacquelyn | 11/19/2010

    " Short and not very well developed. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sandra | 11/13/2010

    " Read after a family death - some of it rings true, but I didn't really like it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sally | 10/29/2010

    " A memoir written by a daughter of a woman dying of cancer. I came away sad for the author.
    "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kather21 | 10/3/2010

    " Good writing but the narrator was infuriatingly honest. Her self-centeredness was depressing. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Alicia | 8/23/2010

    " This book was hard to get through. It's a memoir of a girl tending to her dying mother, and a 9 year illness zeroing in on the last 3 weeks. I found myself cringeing at the raw observations. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Emily | 8/14/2010

    " Another book that hit a little too close to home. Don't know why I insist on reading these but I do. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marguerite | 3/17/2010

    " An unflinching look at loss, written beautifully. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Malissa | 3/6/2010

    " I thought this book was a big let down. It is the memoir of the three weeks leading up to her mother's death from cancer. But it seemed very selfish and self absorbed, very forced and very distant. I didn't feel a lot of love for the mother from the author. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katlet | 1/31/2010

    " A heartbreaking look at the loss of one's mother. Romm details the last three weeks of her mother's life as she dies of cancer. Sometimes I felt the language held us at a distance - but maybe her grief was putting a screen between feelings and words.
    "

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About the Author
Author Robin Romm

Robin Romm is the author of the critically acclaimed short story collection, The Mother Garden, which was a finalist for the 2008 PEN USA Fiction Award. Born and raised in Eugene, Oregon, she currently lives in Berkeley, California, and New Mexico, where she is assistant professor of creative writing and literature at the College of Santa Fe.

About the Narrator

Ann Marie Lee is a seven-time winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award for narration. She is a Los Angeles–based actress with television credits that include ER, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and Nip/Tuck. Her stage performances for Broadway National Tours and regional theater include Peter Pan, As You Like It, Heartbreak House, and The Cherry Orchard.